World renown British historian and author Norman Davies was feted here at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland on October 19, 2004. He debuted his latest of a series of acclaimed historical books dedicated to Poland- "Rising '44: The Battle for Warsaw". Ambassador Przemyslaw Grudzinski welcomed the guests, and extensive, related introductory remarks were delivered by widely-recognized CNN Correspondent David Ensor. Mr. Ensor recently produced the laudable CNN documentary "Warsaw Rising" on the occasion of it's 60th Anniversary this past August.
Mr. Davies spoke to the audience against a semi-circle backdrop of a score of large black and white photos, mounted on panels, captioned in both Polish and English, as designed by graphic artists Marek Mikulski and Maciej Mikulski. These tall, dramatic photo panels, in vivid and heart-wrenching detail, documented many different aspects of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, and they constituted a major historical presentation unto themselves.
With the stage being thus set, Davies promptly set about explaining the reason he wrote the book: To document, commemorate and publicize the 60th Anniversary of this heroic but ill-fated major event of World War II that began on August 1, 1944 and raged on for 63 bloody, deadly days. He gave a brief overview of the Warsaw Uprising and how, with the obvious and recognized de-facto complicity of the communist Soviet Union, the Nazi German military forces methodically and maliciously reduced Warsaw to a heap of smoldering ruins and slaughtered approximately 200,000 Poles in the process. He titled the book "Rising 44" to provide a definite clarification for the Warsaw Uprising because it is frequently confused with, or mistaken for, the equally heroic and doomed Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of April, 1943 that lasted 27 days. The Ghetto Uprising was also brutally and totally suppressed by the Nazi Germans who had occupied and controlled Poland since they invaded and defeated it in September-October, 1939.
Davies continued that the Battle for Warsaw was largely forgotten and had become a non-event because of geo-politics and international accommodations between East and West in the post-WWII world. The total, criminal destruction of Warsaw and the unwarranted slaughtering of it's soldiers/citizens was not addressed at the 1945-49 Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal that indicted Nazi German political and military leaders. This was because the Soviet Union, with their equally blood-stained hands, had become an ally of the West during the war and now would not allow any investigation or charging of the crime. The Soviets, thanks to the agreement of England and America, now dominated Poland both politically and militarily, very forcefully suppressing all mention and memory of the nationalistic 1944 Uprising as per their political agenda and communist ideology. They could not, absolutely would not, tolerate the timeless historical fact and extremely powerful patriotic concept of the "Fighting Poland" to rally and inspire the Poles yet again to fight for their freedom against the foreign occupier and oppressor. And this is exactly what the Soviet Union had now become in the place of defeated Nazi Germany.
Davies concluded his (enhanced) remarks by saying that it was not until 1989, with the peaceful overthrow of the Soviet imposed communist government by the Polish people, that the first monument was dedicated to the 1944 Uprising in the once again free and democratic Poland. And now, at the 60th Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising, we also have a most worthy literary memorial commemorating it, thanks to the grand accomplishment of author Norman Davies.
Rising '44: The Battle for Warsaw, by Norman Davies